Breastfeeding: benefits and challenges

Looking Forward

Breastfeeding: benefits and challenges

Breastfeeding is the natural way of providing Your Child with all the nutritional and emotional needs so as to enable fast and healthy growth. 

It takes care of a baby’s nutritional and emotional needs better than any other method of infant feeding. It also helps protect against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) therefore recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding in addition to suitable complementary foods up to two years of age or longer.

Benefits of breastfeeding

Supporting the immune system: Breastfed babies have less number of infections and hospital admissions than formula-fed infants. During breastfeeding, antibodies and other germ-fighting factors pass from you to Your Child and strengthen the little one’s immune system. This helps reduce the chances of getting many infections, such as:

Nutrition and ease of digestion: Breast milk is often called the “perfect food” for a baby’s digestive system. Its components — lactose, protein, and fat — are easily digested by a newborn so that breastfed Your Child won’t have much diarrhea or constipation. Breast milk also normally contains many of the vitamins and minerals that a newborn requires.

It’s free: It doesn’t cost to breastfeed a baby, while the cost of formula quickly adds up. In addition, breastfed babies are marginally less likely to be sick, which means that you could potentially save the cost of medical care down the road.

Different tastes: Breast milk can have different flavors depending on what you eat. So by tasting the foods of their “culture,” breastfed infants are more able to easily accept solid foods.

Convenience: Whether you’re home or away from home, breast milk is always fresh and ready. And there’s no need to wash or warm up bottles in the middle of the night.

“Skin-to-skin” contact: The aspect of bonding so closely with their babies is an enjoyable experience for nursing mothers. The skin-to-skin contact during breastfeeding can enhance the emotional connection between mother and infant.

Beneficial for you: Breastfeeding can help you feel confident in your ability to care for Your Child. It can also help you to burn calories, as well as help shrink the uterus so that you can easily return to your pre-pregnancy shape and weight. Furthermore, research shows that breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and may decrease the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.

Challenges of breastfeeding
Time and frequency of feedings: At the early stage when Your Child feeds more frequently, breastfeeding is a big time commitment. The breastfeeding schedule or the need to pump breast milk during the day may make it difficult for you to work, run errands, or travel. And with breast milk, you need to feed Your Child more often because breast milk digests faster than formula. This means you may find yourself in demand every 2 or 3 hours in the first few weeks.

Diet: If you’re breastfeeding, you need to be conscious of what you eat and drink, since these can be passed to Your Child through the breast milk. Just like during pregnancy, you should not eat fish that are high in mercury. You should also avoid any alcohol. Caffeine intake shouldn’t be more than 300 milligrams (about one to two cups of regular coffee) per day because it can make Your Child restless and irritable. The best time to drink coffee is right after your last feed.


Dr. Piyawut Kreetapirom, MD. (5 October 2019)


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